Empowering women through clean energy
According to the International Energy Agency, globally, over 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, and at least 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean cooking systems and fuels. Majority of this people depend on wood fuel for cooking and kerosene lanterns for lighting. Inefficient lighting and cooking, although not the primary source of climate pollution, contribute to climate change and the degradation of natural resources.
With this in mind, the U.S Department of State launched the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (wPOWER) in January 2013. Based on its initial success in India, wPOWER has expanded to East Africa—Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania—and to Nigeria.
In Kenya, a wPOWER Hub has been created at Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies (WMI), at the University of Nairobi by the Department of State with support from the MacArthur Foundation. The wPOWER Hub’s role is to build the evidence base on women, energy access and climate solutions; conduct training of trainer workshops; facilitate African and Indian women entrepreneur and leadership exchanges to build a network of women climate leaders, and build public awareness.
In partnership with the Green Belt Movement (GBM), the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, CARE International, Solar Sister, Swayam Shikshan Prayog and WMI, wPOWER aims to empower over 8,000 women clean energy entrepreneurs across East Africa, Nigeria and India. These women will deliver clean energy access to more than 3.5 million people over the next three years.
Participants in the wPOWER African program recently traveled to India to share lessons learnt by the team from India. By so doing, the program acts as an exchange between the regions, bringing together clean energy representatives to share successes and develop the program further.
The exchange program started with a visit to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi India, an organization that develops cost effective, clean and sustainable energy technologies. A visit to TERI university where these technologies are developed, enriched participants with scientific knowledge on clean energy technologies especially standardization as well as testing for quality.
The team, led by Wanjira Mathai – GBM Board Chair and Director wPOWER Hub, attended the wPOWER Global Partnership Forum 2015 held at the India Habitat Center on April 16 -17, 2015. The forum brought together grassroots women entrepreneurs/leaders and other stakeholders (policy-makers, donors, social entrepreneurs and technology innovators) to evaluate and share their perspectives on involving women in creating a sustainable and inclusive ecosystems.
Speakers at the event included: Wanjira Mathai, Prema Gopalan – Director Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), John Beed – US Agency for International Development (USAID), Varsha Joshi – Ministry of Environment India, among others.